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From Words to Action: Implementation of the Organizational Grant Program's new diversity, equity, and inclusion requirement

September 10, 2019

In 2018, the LA  County Dept of Arts and Culture implemented a new eligibility requirement to its Organizational Grant Program. Applicants must submit a statement, policy, or plan outlining their commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion, and access (DEI). This analysis of the statements, policies, and plans submitted for the 2019-21 grant cycle finds that while nearly all applicants used the term diversity, they defined it and used it in different ways. Some applicants described their commitment to DEI by indicating how many of various race and ethnicity or gender categories they had on their board, in their staff, or among their artists. Other applicants addressed questions of diversity as they related to the organization's historical work around equity and inclusion. In some cases, applicant organizations demonstrated a long-standing commitment to addressing these issues in specific communities. This report concludes with a series of recommendations to arts and other nonprofits seeking to deepen their work, and recommendations for how the Dept of Arts and Culture can continue to improve implementation of this requirement.

Art as Infrastructure: An evaluation of civic art and public engagement in four communities in south Los Angeles County

May 28, 2018

This report is an evaluation of a range of outcomes at the four sites in the Creative Graffiti Abatement Project in Los Angeles County. This report evaluates the success of arts-based strategies in shifting perceptions, increasing positive activity, reducing graffiti vandalism, building a sense of community ownership and building capacity for future arts and culture activities at the sites. While this report takes a summative approach to evaluating outcomes, the evaluator was embedded in planning and public engagement activities throughout the project, combining elements of a developmental evaluation approach with strategies from ethnographic inquiry. The report offers detailed recommendations for public art commissioning agencies, arts organizations, artists and evaluators implementing similar projects.

Research & Evaluation at the LA County Arts Commission, 2016-17

January 22, 2018

Research and evaluation are core competencies at the LA County Arts Commission, as central to the mission as grantmaking, arts education, civic art, professional development and communications. In this report on our 2016-17 Research and Evaluation Plan we reflect on what we did and why, and some key lessons learned along the way. 

Artist in Residence at MLK Hospital: Evaluation and Lessons Learned

December 26, 2017

Artist Sandy Rodriguez was placed as an artist in residence at the Recuperative Care Center (RCC) at the Martin Luther King Medical Campus in Willowbrook, CA, in 2016-17. This residency was part of a $1.6 million investment in Civic Art funded through LA County's Percent for Art Policy. Rodriguez was given the task of developing a "meaningful, sustainable program for the Recuperative Care Center that will engage staff and clients and create artwork to be displayed at the facility." This internal evaluation of the residency found that Rodriguez created a workshop structure that was relevant to the needs of RCC clients and highly valued by staff.

Los Angeles County Arts Education Profile: Report on public schools, 2015-17

December 8, 2017

The LA County Arts Education Profile survey was administered to all 2,277 public schools in LA County to learn about the quantity, quality and equity of arts education. We found that nearly every school offers at least some arts instruction, and most schools offer at least two disciplines. At the same time, we found troubling inequities that reflect disparities in the wider society.

Los Angeles County Arts Education Profile: Online tool

December 8, 2017

The LA County Arts Education Profile survey was administered to all 2,277 public schools in LA County to learn about the quantity, quality and equity of arts education. Anyone can use this interactive tool to look up any school or district in LA County to find out what arts instruction is offered, and compare it to other schools and districts. The data can be downloaded as a CSV file. 

Cultural Equity and Inclusion Initiative: Final Report

April 5, 2017

In November 2015 the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors passed a resolution directing the LA County Arts Commission to conduct a county wide conversation about ways to improve diversity, equity and inclusion in cultural organizations for all LA County residents, focusing on four key target areas: Boards of Directors, Staffing, Audience/Participants, and Programming. To this the Arts Commission added a fifth: Artists/Creators. Through this process 13 actionable recommendations emerged. These recommendations open the doors to resources and promote tools that can break down barriers of exclusion in ways that foster and promote arts and culture – as well as the benefits they provide – for all residents of LA County. This report describes the process the Arts Commission went through as well as our findings and recommendations. It may also serve as a model for how other agencies - arts or otherwise - can plan and lead other initiatives to improve cultural equity and inclusion for their residents.

Los Angeles County Arts Commission: Public Engagement in the Arts - A Review of Recent Literature

August 11, 2016

Do all Americans have equal access to the arts? Are the arts accessible and inclusive for all communities? National rates of arts participation as measured by attendance at live benchmark events have been trending down for the past few decades. Consequently, a narrative of arts decline in the US has been largely accepted, even as some accounts show cultural engagement experiencing a renaissance enabled by advanced communication technologies and changing demographics.This report, informed by a review of practitioner and academic literature, charts the concerns of arts stakeholders surrounding public arts engagement since about 2000, beginning with the discovery of a statistically significant decline in benchmark attendance as observed in the Survey of Public Participation in the Arts (SPPA). It also traces the role of the "informal arts" (folk, traditional and avocational arts) in broadening the definition of arts and cultural participation.Authors Henry Jenkins and Vanessa Bertossi (2007) have suggested that we are living in a "new participatory culture" distinguished by four factors:1. Low barriers to artistic expression and civic engagement;2. Strong support for creating and sharing what one creates with others;3. Transmission of knowledge and skills through informal mentorship networks; and4. A degree of social currency and sense of connectedness among participantsThis new culture makes measuring arts participation more difficult because traditional distinctions between amateur and professional, hobbyist and artist, and consumer and producer are blurring. Broadening the definition of arts participation to include leisure time investment in creative pursuits and arts-making helps enlarge the definition of art's value to society (Ramirez, 2000). Expanding our sense of "what counts" initiates new conversations by reframing the old question "Why aren't people attending?" as "What are people doing with their creativity-focused leisure time?" New cultural indicators are revealing the value of arts and culture in people's everyday lives, shifting the narrative about arts participation in the early twenty-first century from decline to resurgence.Even as both the concept and measurement of "engagement" in the arts has evolved over time, the understanding of the purpose of that engagement has varied. For some organizations, engagement has meant creating new inroads to existing programming. For others, engagement has meant developing new programs to capture the attention of new audiences. In 2015, this conversation took a new direction as people moved from talking about engagement as a process to focusing instead on a key outcome: cultural equity and inclusion. In Los Angeles County, as well as across the U.S., arts organizations began to focustheir attention on ensuring that everyone has access to the benefits offered by the arts. Viewed through this lens, this literature review should be seen as a companion – a prequel, even – to the literature review on cultural equity and inclusion published by the Los Angeles County Arts Commission in March 2016.

Public Engagement in the Arts: A Review of Recent Literature

August 2, 2016

In recent years, research has found that across the US, arts audiences are declining while arts participation is on the rise. How can both be true at the same time? This literature review on Public Engagement in the Arts that explores this question. It also delves intothe different ways in which "public engagement" can be defined and practiced,the purposes public engagement has been used for in the arts, andhow the terms "audience" and "participant" have evolved and blurred over time.This literature review also places public engagement in the context of one of the most urgent conversations taking place in the arts and culture field today, that of cultural equity and inclusion. How can we ensure that everyone in our community has access to the opportunities and benefits provided by the arts? As this review discusses, public engagement is one tool available to artists, arts organizations and arts educators to help them work toward that goal.

Los Angeles County Arts Commission Cultural Equity and Inclusion Initiative Literature Review

March 30, 2016

This literature review is intended to investigate and provide background information on how others have addressed the question of improving "diversity in cultural organizations, in the areas of their leadership, staffing, programming and audience composition", both through academic research and practitioner experience. The literature lends these concepts into a division by slightly different categories, as follows: Boards of Directors in Arts and Culture Organizations The Arts and Culture Workforce Audiences and ProgrammingAudiences and programming are closely intertwined in the literature, and thus are combined in this report. Culturally specific arts organizations and their potential contribution to diversity, cultural equity and inclusion in the arts ecology emerged as a potentially powerful but not yet fully understood set of actors, so this topic was added as a fourth section in this report: Culturally Specific Arts OrganizationsThe report begins with a background discussion on diversity, cultural equity and inclusion in arts and culture, and it concludes with a series of broad lessons that emerged from the literature that apply to all four of the areas identified by the Board of Supervisors in their motion.

LA County Arts Report: Volunteers in Nonprofit Arts Organizations in LA County - Analysis of Data from the Cultural Data Project

November 5, 2015

Volunteer labor is at the heart of what makes nonprofits run. Managing those volunteers is one of a nonprofit's most significant tasks. Data reported by arts nonprofits in LA County to the Cultural Data Project (CDP) suggests this is as true in the arts as in other nonprofit sectors. Among arts nonprofits, volunteers take on responsibilities as artists, fundraisers, program staff or they may provide other general support.This study begins by defining the term "volunteer," investigating the complexity of volunteers' varied motivations, exploring different ways to understand the value of volunteering, and examining the special role of artist volunteers in arts nonprofits. It concludes with a series of recommendations that may help arts nonprofits improve their volunteer management and think of their volunteers in a whole new light. The data presented here -- as well as our preceding salaries and benefits studies -- should be seen not as a definitive answer to questions about labor and compensation in local arts nonprofits, but as a starting point for conversations about the status of the nonprofit arts ecology in LA County.

Creative Work: How Arts Education Promotes Career Opportunities Beyond the Arts

April 15, 2015

This study takes a closer look at those occupations that do not require a bachelor's degree, asking questions about what kinds of jobs they are and how they compare to jobs that do require at least a bachelor's degree. Specifically, How many job openings are there, and how well do they pay? What kinds of activities do those workers do on the job? What opportunities do they offer to learn on the job? How locally concentrated are those occupations? This report concludes with recommendations for how the K-12 education system could be improved to increase opportunities in LA's creative occupations, in ways that benefit the LA County economy as a whole.